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An NBA point guard, Derek Fisher was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers when they won three straight championships from 2000 to 2002.
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Fisher and Bryant developed a close friendship based on their mutual determination and work ethic, with both often staying at the gym for hours after practice ended, pushing each other to improve. "A lot of times we were the only two there," Bryant later remembered, "so we ended up playing full court, one-on-one basketball, and we were almost fighting, literally,
just because we were both competitive. From that point forward I just gained so much respect for him."
Propelled by this intense work ethic, Fisher improved greatly during each of his first few NBA seasons, carving out a crucial role on a star-studded Lakers team. During the 1999-2000 season, Fisher started as point guard, averaging 23 minutes and 6 points per game, helping the Lakers win their first NBA championship since the 1980s. During the next two seasons, Fisher averaged 11 points per game as the Lakers won two more championships, firmly establishing themselves as an NBA dynasty.
Fisher's greatest single moment on an NBA basketball court, however, came in the 2004 playoffs against their rival, the San Antonio Spurs. Each team had already won two games, meaning that the winner of Game 5 would become an overwhelming favorite to win the series. The Spurs took a one-point lead with just 0.4 seconds remaining, seemingly ending the contest. But Fisher received an in-bounds pass, spun toward the rim, and fired a last-minute jump shot in one fluid motion, somehow beating the clock. The ball dropped through the rim, giving the Lakers a miracle victory en route to their fourth straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
Those finals ended in shocking defeat, however, when the underdog Detroit Pistons knocked off the reigning champions to win the 2004 NBA title. In the summer following that loss, the Lakers' dynasty dissolved, with both Shaquille O'Neal and coach Phil Jackson leaving the Lakers. Fisher also joined the exodus, departing via free agency for the Golden State Warriors. Fisher's two seasons with the Warriors were the two best statistical campaigns of his career, but the Warriors failed to make the playoffs in either year, and Fisher left the Warriors for the Utah Jazz in 2006.
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